Robservations: WGN Radio Walk of Fame turns into station giveaway

WGN Radio Walk of Fame

Robservations on the media beat:

WGN Radio Walk of Fame — 2021

There’s a new twist to the strange saga of the WGN Radio Walk of Fame. Launched in 2014 as a promotional gimmick to honor current and former personalities of news/talk WGN 720-AM, plaques for dozens of inductees were embedded in the pavement outside Tribune Tower, then home of the Tribune Broadcasting radio flagship. With the sale of Tribune Tower in 2018, the plaques were removed with talk of eventually securing a “new, suitable home” for them. At some point they wound up in a makeshift graveyard at WGN’s transmitter site in northwest suburban Elk Grove Village. Now comes word WGN has given up on finding a new site and has begun offering the plaques to the inductees. (The idea surfaced after a report here that Marlene Wells, a WGN sales promotion coordinator and 2019 inductee, already had her plaque in her garden at home.) On Tuesday Mary Sandberg Boyle, vice president and general manager of WGN, said: “While we hoped to find a suitable place to display the plaques, when we realized that the honorees would rather be in possession of them, we felt it would be a more fitting tribute to grant their request.” No word yet on how many have accepted the offer.

Mitch Pugh

As the fourth editor in five years at the Chicago Tribune Mitch Pugh inherits a newsroom ravaged by resignations and demoralized by new owners hell-bent on cutting costs. The central Illinois native, who’s been executive editor of the Charleston Post and Courier in South Carolina since 2013, was named to succeed Colin McMahon, who resigned after 18 months as editor-in-chief. In a Zoom call Tuesday with Tribune staffers, Pugh, 47, said he brings “a fresh set of eyes to a journalism institution that’s important to so many people,” declaring it “a viable news organization.” While he didn’t rule out additional changes or further cuts under Alden Global Capital, Pugh said he doubted the Tribune would suffer the fate of the Denver Post, which was gutted by the New York-based hedge fund.

Rob Nelson

Rob Nelson, one of the three original news anchors hired to front NewsNation last fall, just became the first to part company with the Chicago-based cable news network launched by Nexstar Media Group. “Rob Nelson has decided to pursue other opportunities and we have decided to amicably part ways,” Michael Corn, president of news for NewsNation, wrote in an email to staffers. “We wish him all the best.” Nelson joined the startup from ABC-owned WABC in New York, where he had been a weekend morning anchor and weekday reporter. No word yet on his next move.

Lorraine Forte

Lorraine Forte has resigned after three years as a member of the editorial board of the Sun-Times to work for the Chicago Police Department in communications. The former executive editor of The Chicago Reporter and former editor-in-chief of Catalyst Chicago previously worked for the Sun-Times as a reporter. “While we are wishing her the absolute best in her new position, we are going to miss her terribly,” interim editor-in-chief Steve Warmbir wrote in an email to staffers. “She has been a key contributor to the edit board with her deep news and reporting experience and an all-around great colleague.” Warmbir said the Sun-Times plans to fill the position.

Buzz Kilman

Buzz Kilman,  Chicago radio newsman and sidekick extraordinaire, will fill in for Dave Plier as guest host from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday on news/talk WGN 720-AM. Best known for his long runs alongside Radio Hall of Famers Jonathon Brandmeier and Steve Dahl, Kilman continues to appear with Brandmeier on his podcast series at brandmeiershow.com. He’s been a fixture on Chicago radio since 1980 when he joined the station formerly known as The Loop as Dahl’s morning news anchor.

Tuesday’s comment of the day: Chad Rubel: Colin McMahon took on a very thankless role at a rough time for the newspaper. Hope his next job is less stressful.